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Mercedes-Benz E200 CGI BlueEfficiency SE Estate

Click to view picture gallery“The new Mercedes-Benz E-Class
  range covers most popular areas of
  the executive car market: saloons,
  estates, coupes and cabriolets.
  Not only that, it offers a classy badge
  with affordable running costs
...”


ALL NEW E-CLASS MODELS, except the Sport and AMG version, are labelled 'BlueEfficiency', Merc's answer to the pioneering and award-winning BMW EfficientDynamics programme of no compromises in performance, more power but with better fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions. The latter two, of course, mean lower road tax, less fuel costs and reduced BIK company car tax.

E-Class Estate prices start from 30,160 and rise to 50,755 but the specialist high-performance AMG version will cost 74,400. Trim and equipment levels for the mainstream models are SE, Avantgarde and Sport. Engine options are many but the main-sellers are new generation CGI direct injection, high-pressure, turbocharged petrol or CDI common-rail, high-pressure, turbocharged diesel. As with all new mainstream engines, they offer more power and torque from generally a lower cubic capacity with better MPG and CO2 figures.

For example, I have just spent a busy week with the 'starter' model in the executive E-Class Estate range — the E200 CGI BlueEfficiency SE, priced at 30,160 on-the-road. My test model had the very popular extra-cost 5-speed automatic tiptronic transmission option which adds 1,490.

When compared to its BMW and Audi 'premium' competitor models in this sector, the E-Class Estate, and like its Saloon partner, is more comfortable and, generally speaking, more refined although perhaps less appealing to younger drivers. They, traditionally, are attracted to the 'dash' offered by the BMW before moving to the less 'brash' Audi and then, as the years go by, trading up to a classy Mercedes-Benz.

“Top speed is 140mph
and the acceleration from
zero to 62mph is an
astonishing — given the
engine and vehicle size
— 8.8 seconds...
The Merc E-Class is the car we used to see our local Bank Managers or Doctors driving; a car of substance for a person of stature and standing in the community. Today it will be the model from an attractive fleet deal for business executives, especially diesel versions. The well-off retail customers will most likely go for petrol-engined models because they drive less miles. They also have more relaxation time for extended holidays, active recreational pursuits and, of course, the E-Class Estate is likely to be the most popular car in the golf club car park.

Now with all this engine downsizing you might think the E200 CGI is a 2.0-litre petrol unit. Wrong. It is actually 1.8-litres (1,796cc) and No, it isn't too small, weak or feeble for this big 4,895mm-long estate that weighs over 1.7-tonnes. Because this 181bhp engine is such a good example of how modern technology has made it possible to use lower capacity engines with more power but with less running costs without compromises in performance.

The top speed is 140mph in manual transmission form (138mph with the auto) and the acceleration from zero to 62mph is an astonishing — given the engine and vehicle size — 8.8 seconds. Fuel economy is officially 35.8mpg (35.4mpg on my test) with CO2 emissions of 183g/km. So the VED road tax in the first year is 300 and then 200 for the second year onwards. Benefit in Kind company car tax is 25%.

As good as this petrol engine is, the E220 CDI 2.0-litre, 168bhp turbodiesel E-Class Estate models will return close to 50mpg with just 125 in road tax and BIK tax is 22%. So for me, whether you are a company car driver or retail buyer, the diesel version is the best buy and costs 30,645 in the same SE specification in manual form or an extra 1,490 for the auto option. The performance figure match the E200 CGI petrol unit almost exactly and the diesel engine version only costs 485 more which the lesser road tax and better fuel economy will soon pay for plus the diesel version has a better residual value projection.

For the record, the competitor new BMW 5-Series Touring 520d SE costs 30,380, has 181bhp, returns 54.3mpg and the CO2 figure of 137g/km means VED is just 110 a year and BIK company car tax is only 19%. The older, Audi A6 Avant 2.0 TDIe with similar SE specification costs 29,250, has 134bhp, returns 53.3mpg and its CO2 emissions of 139g/km mean VED is 110 and BIK tax is also 19%.

“As for specification,
the SE level, even though
it is the least expensive,
is not in the slightest
what you could call basic
— it even includes
an electrically-operated
tailgate
...”
Out of its competitor models the E-Class is the roomiest by far for passengers front and rear, and to match that its load space — the area that really matters for customers choosing an estate — is the largest in this executive class. Space under the load cover is 695 litres but this increases to a whopping 1,950 litres with the rear seats folded — just a pity the seat backs do not fold completely flat to maximise the load bed length.

As remarkable as the Mercedes E200 CGI petrol engine is — responsive to drive, smooth, plenty of power and torque — unless petrol is the fuel of choice, in the long term it is diesel engines that are most popular and cost effective. Coupled with the auto gearbox, the 1.8-litre CGI unit was a pleasure to drive — but it is more expensive to run.

In all other respects, either with petrol or diesel engines, the E-Class is the best executive estate on the market in terms of space, comfort, refinement and image. The ride is effortless and offers reasonably precise control even on twisty roads. The self levelling rear air suspension does cause some 'float' and performs better when the car is loaded.

As for specification, the SE level, even though it is the least expensive, is not in the slightest what you could call basic — it even includes an electrically-operated tailgate. So the SE specification includes 16-inch alloy wheels, roof rails, 'active' pedestrian-safe bonnet, adaptive anti-lock braking, Pre-Safe anticipatory safety system, electronic stability programme, an annoying foot-operated parking brake, automatic climate control, Bluetooth, a logical and easy to use central controller dial to operate the sound system, on-board computer, electrically-operated windows and door mirrors, electrically-operated driver's seat and heated front seats, artificial leather upholstery, multi-function controls on the steering wheel, a full set of airbags and other safety functions including Neck-Pro front head restraints, front and rear parking aids and the must-have bonnet-mounted Mercedes-Benz star.

Reasons to buy are numerous and include: the largest premium executive estate car for both passenger space front and rear and cargo space, classy, comfortable and refined, lots of safety features as standard, high specification even for the least expensive SE version and the impressive 1.8-litre petrol engine.

The only decision to make when buying an executive premium brand estate, after deciding the Mercedes-Benz E-Class is the best in most ways, is whether it should be the very impressive smaller capacity direct injection, turbocharged petrol engine or the 2.0-litre CDI turbodiesel unit for just 485 more and which saves lots in running and tax costs. The diesel unit gets my vote — but only just. I'd be happy with either. — David Miles

Mercedes-Benz E200 CGI BlueEfficiency SE Estate
| 30,160
Maximum speed: 138mph | 0-62mph: 8.8 seconds | Overall test MPG: 35.4mpg
Power: 181bhp | Torque: 199lb ft | CO2 183g/km